Category Archives: Seminars & Events

Stores Online Is A Ripoff

Just around the time I was considering leaving my day job to work from home full time (circa fall 2007), someone gave me a flier for a local ‘internet marketing’ workshop, hosted by Stores Online. I figured, hey, it’s free, and knowledge & another perspective can’t hurt, right?

Well, naive as I was at the time (there’s been a lot of water under that bridge in 3 years!) I didn’t step outside the process to observe (as I should have), but allowed myself to get sucked in, hook, line, and sinker. Needless to say, I now enjoy watching these sort of things unfold from a detached (and somewhat cynical) marketing standpoint; watching presentation techniques and closing devices and the whole bit. Back then? Not so much.

So we go to this Stores Online presentation, they give you a free something or other (I think it was a day planner or something stupid) and do their best to wow you with the potential profit that exists in selling things online. Well, I already knew that. Thing is, I’d ready the 4 Hour Work Week just a couple months earlier, and Timothy Ferriss had several amazing examples of guys that had made a lot of dough with their web stores. With that in mind, I was an easy target. I had already sort of decided at the time that I wanted to start my own web store, and they were presenting an opportunity to do just that… or so I thought.

Anyways, at the end of the evening, Stores Online said we’ll give you a one day workshop for free – you just have to pay for your lunch – and we’ll teach you about all this fancy internet marketing stuff. Ok, sounds like a plan. Thank you so much for the opportunity Stores Online!

(side note – you can request a ‘free invitation’ to a Stores Online workshop near you at their homepage. Nothing quite like inviting yourself to a party, is there?)

Stores Online Pro: Slick Marketing Masters

Want To Conquer The Internet? Don't Get The Stores Online Scam

Thing is, I already knew 97% of what they were talking about from an internet marketing standpoint, but I wanted the tools they were offering to get going quick. So I go to this day long presentation – because that’s what it was, not a ‘seminar’ – and I ‘learned’ all about their product. Not so much about internet marketing…

Anyhow, before lunch they’d steeped you full of success stories, we’d heard from live speakers ‘living the dream’ – and they’d put the offer on the table (unspoken: so you have time to phone whoever you need to at lunch). After lunch they stepped it up a bit, finally closing near the end of the day with a strong scarcity offer.

IE – if you don’t act TODAY, you’re totally screwed.

Well gee, thanks Stores Online – I guess I’d better drop the wad on your offer then!

Kind as they are, those Stores Online Pro folk, they offered I believe it was a 7 day money back guarantee. I spent several thousand dollars with them to get I think it was 5 web store licenses. That allowed me to use their store builder software on 5 sites. If memory serves, it was roughly a grand a piece.

So I jumped on board, planning on getting this up and running as soon as I’d quit my day job, which was scheduled for a month or so away. Of course that put me way beyond any guarantee period they offered, and think about it for a moment – unless you went home immediately the day after and jumped into this thing full tilt for seven days straight, you’d actually have no idea what you’d truly gotten into by the time the guarantee period expired. The learning curve is STEEP!

In other words – unless you got buyer’s remorse the very next day, and were smart enough to act on it, you’re screwed. Personally, I had no idea what I’d really gotten into until months down the road…

Stores Online Review In A Nutshell

Ok, so let’s get down and dirty here. What is it that makes Stores Online such a ripoff? Here’s what I can remember off the top of my head:

  • The upfront cost of $1000 per license is a total ripoff. All over the internet you can find software packages that will allow you to accomplish the same thing as Stores Online Pro at a fraction of the cost – often between the $150 to $300 price point. And in many cases, that fee will give you unlimited licenses.
  • Their software “Stores Online Pro” platform is archaic, antiquated, and asinine. It does not (at least at the time when I was immersed in it) have the ability to integrate with 3rd party industry standard applications. Things like RSS feeds, a dynamic blog, email auto responders and more were simply not on the table, despite the Stores Online claims of being cutting edge. PHP? Forget it. Critics will say that Stores Online provides an auto responder – but I say it is absurdly simplistic and incapable of handling even the most basic of standard auto responder functions.
  • Their software conveniently integrates with drop shippers like Doba who also have shady reputations, and also lock you in to monthly fees, just so you can list products on your site. It is a bit of an old boys’ club in my opinion. Estimated fee to have a drop shipper account? Something like $30-$50 a month. On top of that, you’re getting pricing similar to what you might find on Amazon (how you gonna mark that up enough to cover costs and get rich?) Oh – and they never tell you about how much work it is to find a true on-demand drop shipper on your own. Virtually impossible for the market I chose (digital picture frames). Despite the amazing ‘training resources’ Stores Online provided, I only ever came across suppliers willing to send out big batches of product. Definitely not what I was looking for. (True drop shipping means you get an order for product XYZ, and your supplier ships the required quantity directly to the end-user on your behalf. No inventory required.)
  • Speaking of fees, don’t forget the $30 hosting fee Stores Online charges you to have your store online! Yeah – in a world where $6 or $7 per month gets you unlimited domains with unlimited databases and email accounts the $30 Stores Online fee is a blatant rip off.
  • Their store software is not at all intuitive. Web design with Stores Online flies against all known standards you’d find elsewhere, and instead you’re left stumbling around in their menu system. Want a custom theme? No problem – but you’re going to have to pay $100 per hour for a programmer’s time. They never told you the stock themes sucked, did they?
  • It claims to be database driven, but you still end up managing things manually. I found keeping track of items a real chore.

The Stores Online Slimy Sequels

The other thing that you’ll never hear about is once you drink the Stores Online Kool Aid, they will give or sell your contact information to a whole slew of other blood-smelling sharks. After a while I began getting rather intense sales calls from all sorts of business growth type companies with a coaching program for this, that and the other thing. Apparently Stores Online is in bed with other coaching outfits that will give you ‘advanced training’ that isn’t available through Stores Online themselves – training that is specific to the Stores Online platform, and if you honestly want the fast path to success, well by golly, you better be on board! (I’m talking about PMI here). I also heard from legal eagles trying to help me setup the legal side of my business, I heard from business growth guys who wanted to help me build a business plan, I heard from SEO gooroos who wanted to help me rank better than Google itself.

Imagine that – so many pleasant conversations with nice sales people, and all I had to do was give Stores Online my credit card number.

Stumbling Through The Stores Online Nightmare

When I finally did quit my day job, I did indeed dive deep into the Stores Online system. I picked a niche (digital picture frames). I researched drop shipping suppliers (ended up being pretty forced to use Doba and Operation Dropship – both have monthly fees). I got setup with a credit card merchant account solutions (another $40 a month). So far I hadn’t sold a single thing, and I was into it for at least $150 a month, just to have a website.

I spent literally hundreds of hours on this store. Once the thing was built, I poured countless hours into writing articles, link building, even making review videos – all in an effort to build the site and generate traffic. I tried this, that, and all sorts of other things. I went through their coaching, and walked away with nothing to show.

After a while other projects began to take up more of my time, and I began to let it slide. Sure, it had generated a few thousand in revenue, but the profits were nowhere near break even considering I needed $150 to stay open. Roughly 18 months later, I sat down one sunny afternoon and had a long, hard look at my Stores Online fiasco.

I decided then and there to pull the plug.

There is definitely such a thing as throwing away good money after bad, and I’d had enough. I consciously decided to scrap hundreds of hours of hard work, cut my losses, and turn the site into an Amazon affiliate site, based on WordPress. WordPress would finally, at last, give me the freedom I needed to actually do things I’d wanted to do for so long with the site. Amazon gave me a totally free, hands-off source of products at the best prices. Sure, I was only getting a 4% cut, but it was for zero effort, and zero ongoing cost.

I bought a WordPress plugin that allowed me to import Amazon products into WordPress, and within 2 days I had a fully functioning Amazon store. Then I pretty much walked away from it. That first month, I made a clean $50 profit from that site, and it continued to generate $30-$50 a month after that. Unbelievable. Finally I was free of the Stores Online boat anchor, and I was actually seeing some positive cash flow for once!

Store Online Preys On Innocent People

You’ve probably never seen an ad on the internet for Stores Online. Ironic, seeing as they apparently are the grand masters of selling stuff online. However, you might have seen their direct mail on your kitchen counter. They are masters at offline lead acquisition, pulling you first to an evening info-session, then further into an all day sales pitch. The model is tested and proven in all sorts of industries, and the Stores Online marketing department is at the top of their game.

They get you in a time-sensitive crunch, where you don’t really have time to research who they are and what they do. Everything is structured so that you get pulled into the little world of Stores Online; they keep you isolated from truly reputable sources of information that would open your eyes to see what a sham they’re running. This goes for the pre-sale part as well as the post-sale.

The travesty of all of this is that they do an excellent job of sucking in very well-intentioned people, taking many of their precious dollars, just to sell them a dream. I’m not saying Stores Online can’t be made to work – I’m sure their success stories are true, but those are a tiny percentage. I know, because I joined a forum full of people like me (screwed Stores Online customers trying to make the best out of a bad thing) at the time.

The Stores Online Alternative

My Stores Online saga was a rather unhappy experiment early on in my business, and thankfully I’ve since moved way beyond that point. Looking back, it serves to keep me humble, knowing I’ve been taken in with the best of them.

That said, I’d love it if my experience can serve as a warning to other people, and hopefully prevent others the same level of frustration I encountered in dealing with Stores Online.

So if not Stores Online, then what?

Well, if you’re just getting your feet wet in internet marketing, then the best thing I can recommend is to join our member’s list – it’s free, just enter your name and email below – and we’ll show you step by step case studies of live websites that are actually making money. We’ve learned the hard way so you don’t have to. We’ll show you how to do it for a fraction of the time and money it would take with Stores Online, and more importantly, you’ll be getting sound marketing advice that has been proven over and over online. Not by someone we read about, but by us. Enter your name and email below to get started. Unlike Stores Online, we will not sell or rent your contact information to others!

Further to that, don’t sell physical products. The markup is slim and you have to deal with suppliers who can disappear or cut you off at any time. Selling information products is FAR more profitable, in many cases  you’re close to 90% profit on a sale. Some retailers have made good money on the internet, but the majority that make it big are either selling information or services, and usually both.

That said, if you’re really interested in the Stores Online concept, and want to build your own web store, then I recommend thoroughly researching your options beforehand. There are some amazing options available now based on the WordPress platform; you can also go with Yahoo stores or one of the other solutions. But please heed this simple advice:

Do NOT Swallow The Stores Online Pro Fishbait – It Isn’t Worth It!

Debrief: Canada Marketing Summit ’09

Last week I attended the Canada Marketing Summit in Vancouver. Many of the speakers I’d never heard of before, though some I had. It’s hard to put a finger on a particular highlight, because I think in general there were a lot of take-aways.

Troy White talked about big idea marketing; timely advice for me as I’m in the seedling stages on two particular projects that will really benefit from a “big idea” that pulls it all together.

Josh Anderson talked about Nanacast – a sweet piece of technology that I’m looking forward to implementing in my sales process pretty soon. In short, it allows full integration with your merchant account, auto responder, membership site and much more. One click upsells, downsells, dynamic pricing, and hordes of nifty membership features make this a no-brainer for anyone that has a product and wants to optimize the sales process. Heard about micro-continuity? You can easily implement that with Nanacast.

Randy Charach talked about domaining – something I’ve never really known much about. It is one of those shady gray areas that most internet marketers don’t really know much about. Of course everyone knows how to buy a domain, but how to pick out ones that are going to be good investments? Or how to monetize ones that are just sitting there? Interesting stuff, though not likely anything that I will be pursuing. Just too much on my plate at the moment.

Glenn Dietzel is an amazing guy who turns people into thought leaders in their field. He’s got this process to turn anybody into somebody in no time flat. 2 things: The marketplace will blindly believe the words of an expert, and with limited time and opportunity, they will choose the option perceived to be on top. Put these two together and use them effectively and you can basically eliminate your competition from the playing field.

Trevor Crook (the Toecracker) spoke on copywriting, giving all kinds of pointers on how to optimize copy, sometimes only by changing one letter! For instance, changing “put” to “puts” in an add boosted response by 300%!

Ken McArthur did an interesting excercise in product development. Recognizing he couldn’t teach us everything he knows in such a short time period, he instead decided to demonstrate it. He ended up selling an un-created product, then enlisted the help of the product owners in the room to actually produce something. Hard to explain in a paragraph, but an interesting lesson in product development. If you don’t know – find someone who does and get them to help!

Pat Mesiti is this little ball of fire from Australia. He’s incredibly inspirational, and has a remarkable way of straight-shooting people right between the eyes, and having them enjoy the process. Some one liner take-aways: “Giving extinguishes greed,” “Better to be a thermostat than a thermometer,” and “When the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count.”

Jeff Mills spoke on outsourcing, a topic that has become closer to me in recent months as I’ve hired my own employee full time in the Philippines. It was helpful to hear the degree to which he’s outsourced his business – and really put a spot light on the importance of getting  trustworthy, capable people to help build your business for you.


Canada Marketing Summit 2009

The Canada Marketing Summit is going to be held in Vancouver March 26-29th, 2009. I’m going to be there, learning as much as I can about marketing and internet marketing. Are you?

 

Get Your Tickets Here

Canada Marketing Summit in Vancouver BC!

Jeff Mills is one of the internet marketers that I’ve been following for a while now. So I’ve frequently gotten his emails, and watched some of his UStream shows talking about the various marketing events he holds every year. The last one he did, the Midwest Super Conference, looked like it was going to be quite the event. However, I wasn’t able to attend because it was the weekend just after I went to the Affiliate Incubator in Dallas TX. 

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been hearing murmurings about a “Canada Marketing Summit” and I didn’t pay a lot of attention to them, because I figured for sure it would be somewhere in Ontario, like most things seem to be. So when I found out today that the Canada Marketing Summit was going to be held right in my own backyard, Vancouver BC, I was pretty surprised. That’s just way too convenient! 

So anyways, I’m 95% sure I’m going to be going to this event. With the convenience of having a four day event with 16 of the world’s leading internet marketers right in my hometown, well I’d be crazy to pass it up. 

Get Your Tickets Here

Here’s a little more info if you’re interested:

The Canada Marketing Summit being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 26-29, 2009 will be the first time, anywhere in this country that an event of this magnitude will be held!

Vancouver is a beautiful city that is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and will be the back drop of this MUST ATTEND event.

Hundreds of success minded people, small business owners, from all over the world; including Top Marketing Gurus, Million Dollar Money Earners and Coaches, Marketing Companies and Expo Vendors will come together for this ultimate 4 day marketing and mastermind session. Buy Your Ticket Today!

There are only 250 seats available – That’s it!

Your Hosts are Jeff Mills and Rob Toth, 16 speakers, some of which include: Alex Mandossian & Randy Charach, Glenn Dietzel, Josh Anderson, Troy White, Warrent Whitlock and Reed Floren!! (with more to be added)

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: $400 OFF [You’ll be receiving over $2600 in bonuses and marketing tools to help you explode your business]…there’s so much more…

Order your seat before January 29, and your cost is only $397.

Or make 3 easy monthly payments of only $133 each.

There is so much going on you just have to check out Canada Marketing Summit now!!

So there you have it. This is your golden opportunity to visit the host city for the 2010 Olympics, in Spring. I can tell you Vancouver is a beautiful place in late March. There’s still snow on the local mountain, but the weather is warm enough that most things have started blooming already, and spring is in full gear. 

So come join us in Vancouver for the Canada Marketing Summit in March 2009!

Affiliate Incubator: To Sum It Up

I’ve spent the last three days drinking from the proverbial firehose at Affiliate Incubator. I think I’ve learned more in the last three days than in the previous year about internet marketing. While many different things were talked about, and I took a lot away from each presentation, I think the one over-riding concept that I’m taking away from this is the fact that I need to define my business, my ‘napkin concept.’ Pick a model and run with it. I’ve been trying so many different things that I by default get pulled too many different directions to really make any breakthroughs in any of those areas.

So I’ve decided to really buckle down and conquer affiliate marketing. There’s a fairly straightforward formula that I’ll likely share here in the coming weeks. It takes affiliate marketing far beyond anything I’ve done in the past, and I’m excited to get rolling with it.

The other big take away that I’d read about and thought about previously was creating systems for my business. However, hearing the degree to which Russell Brunson has implemented this into his business kind of blew my mind. It really inspired me to start doing this, even as I’m mastering my chosen targets, to be systemizing them so that ultimately I don’t have to do the work.

My fire hose drenched mind is a little tapped right now, however, stay tuned. In the coming weeks as I start to implement this stuff, I’ll begin talking about it here as well.